According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), only 19 states provided funding for arts education grant programs in 2016. That’s just 38 percent of the country, and it shows the downward trend for arts programs in public schools; three years ago, “U.S. News” reported that since 2008, funds for schools had been cut in more than 80 percent of school districts – and arts programs are usually among the first curricular victims of budget cuts.
The importance of visual and performing arts programs – particularly music education – has been emphasized by everyone from educators and celebrities to scientists and students. Nonprofits and fundraising drives have appeared all over the country, including arts programs-deprived Arizona (which does not require credits in the arts for high school graduation, and does not require schools provide arts programs to be accredited). One of the local people trying to make a difference is Phoenix filmmaker Matty Steinkamp, creative director of Sundawg Media. He filmed and interviewed musicians, music educators, and students from all over the world for the documentary “Play,” to showcase the importance and magic of music in peoples’ lives. Among them are local music producer Bob Hoag, Phoenix-based musician Henri Bernard, and Nate Anderson of nonprofits Ear Candy and Little Kids Rock.
“Play: The Documentary” has screened in theaters around the U.S., and Steinkamp uses the screenings to raise funds for music education programs, and to provide instruments to schools. “Play” will show at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts in Gilbert on January 11, and all profits will go to the Foundation for Arts, Culture and Education of the East Valley (event details here ).
We recently caught up with Steinkamp to talk more about the movie and music education.